St. Paul, Romans 12:1
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. - Romans 12:1
A Sign of Contradiction
By Steven C. Habisohn, e5 Founder
Through one's baptism each Christian is to be a prophet: a person who tells the truth about God to the world. Fasting contradicts the wisdom of the world. Therefore, through fasting, we too, like Christ, become a prophetic sign of contradiction.
CREATION: A SIGN OF GOD AND HIS LOVE
God made all of creation to reflect Him. For example, we recognize God in a sunset or in the vastness of the universe or in a simple flower. However, the most prophetic thing in all creation was to be the human person. We know this because the book of Genesis tells us that God made man in his image and likeness. No other part of creation can claim this. In fact, the human body itself proclaims that God is love by showing that the physical unity of persons in love brings life.
All creation was made to be prophetic - to tell the truth about God and His Love.
JESUS IS THE ULTIMATE SIGN OF GOD
There is however a greater sign of God in the world than man. The greatest sign of God in the world is literally "God with us", Emmanuel, Jesus Christ, the incarnate God. How much more prophetic can God be than to literally enter into creation and come in the flesh?
SUFFERING A SIGN OF EVIL IN THE WORLD
However, in the beginning, through man, the signs within creation of God's and His love became blurred and clouded through sin. Instead of being a prophetic sign of goodness and love, creation often became a sign of evil's presence in the world. One sign of evil in the world is suffering. Suffering and death communicate quite clearly to us that something beyond the visible creation is wrong. However, because creation was originally made to reflect God and his love, mankind becomes confused and wonders if a good and loving God really exists. We hear phrases like "How could there be a God when there is such horrible suffering in the world?" Man might even speculate that God must be a cruel tyrant because of all the suffering that is so prevalent.
EVIL ATTACKS ULTIMATE SIGN OF GOD
Jesus, the ultimate sign of God, entered a world which was full of the signs of evil. His goodness and presence was rejected by the world. The Bible tells us that the world hated him. The world hated him so much it killed him. Evil wanted to blot out the ultimate sign of God's love, Jesus Christ himself!
But we know that God always has victory over evil. Jesus came to have victory over evil so completely that he even came to take away every sign of evil in the world. He does this by entering into the effects of sin so completely by his own suffering and death that he totally reverses the signs of evil in the world. Suffering and death now becomes the ultimate sign of God's love in the world!
Through Jesus' crucified gift of himself in reparation for our sins, we now see that the sign of suffering no longer becomes the false sign that God is a tyrant but that God is Love so deep and complete that it swallows all evil. Jesus becomes an even more perfect sign of God's Love. Jesus on the cross becomes the ultimate prophet of the truth about God.
The cross then becomes the great "sign of contradiction" because to the world it is the greatest sign of the victory of evil over good while for the Christian it becomes the greatest witness to the love of God.
CHRISTIANS ARE ALSO CALLED TO BE SIGNS OF CONTRADICTION
Through Christ's call to "take up your cross and follow me" we are also called to be signs of contradiction to the world. This means that we too can make suffering a great sign of love. Mystically through Christ's victory over suffering as a sign of evil, we can now offer our sufferings up as a victory over evil as well.
When we suffer and do it in the name of Jesus, we say prophetically to the whole universe, with Jesus, that God is Love. We reverse Satan's lie to Eve that God is not Love. We say that we, like Jesus, trust in God?s Love even though we suffer. This is why fasting is so effective. Through fasting we say that even though we are hungry God is love and that "man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." Fasting patiently is a great act of faith in God's Love - and faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains. This is why e5 men fast for their brides - to bring a powerful gift of healing and spiritual growth that only a great act of faith can bring.
As e5 men, we not only make the devils sword of suffering useless, we actually turn it back on him! Evil is being extinguished every time its symbols are transformed in us - every time we suffer yet trust in God's Love.